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  • Writer's pictureAnita Katsarita - Author

21 grams

You remember the theory that a person's soul weighs 21 grams? Well, Anita suggests her own interpretation of this, through a creative simulation...

So I had this massive, mind-drowning-in-honey-and-milk idea for yet another photographic project.

I was inspired by the film 21 Grams (dir. Alejandro G. Iñárritu, 2003) which, long story short, reminds us that the body becomes 21g lighter when we die, hence, our soul leaves us and takes all the calories of these 21g to... wherever it goes, basically. I had THE epiphany (I have a tendency to receive a different kind of THE epiphany every other week) it was announced to myself that I would take a photo of things that weighed 21g and represented the soul since the soul itself is physically not very photogenic.

So I went to one of those shops that seem to have a lot of everything in them and that look more like a hoarder's living room than a shop and I asked for a scale that could weigh very light things, something along the lines of "up to 100g." Of course, my innocent ponytail and blue backpack could not convince the vendor that I was not planning on using the scale for illicit weed or cocaine and he seemed to find joy in the fact that he was participating in my self-destructive ventures. He still provided me with one suspicious scale that looked as if it was going to turn into ashes as soon as a single gram of salt fell on it. However, it was only 2 batteries that separated me from a successfully working scale. Hooray!

Thus, I began. It was more difficult than I had imagined it to be. 21 grams are a lot less than you might think (or it could have just been oblivious me). Step by step, I found the small elements of my soul: my favourite words in Bulgarian, my favourite words in English, travel tickets from places and moments I had shared with some of the closest people in my life, the threads of the home tradition, a photo of my family, a piece of chocolate, music, the petals of a sunflower (be it an artificial one), Christmasy orange zest, part of an animated book I made, sand from the beach in my hometown... It went on an on (well, actually it went on and on until it reached 16) and with each photo I felt that my being was growing more and more wholesome.

And then it happened the horror. I realized that the scale had not been adjusted to weight in grams... but in oz... which, as you may know, is more than grams. It appeared that every thing I had photographed actually weighed more than 21g and, therefore, more than a soul. My whole project had fallen apart because my one seeing eye didn't look at the little sign RIGHT ABOVE THE NUMBERS.

Anyways, I am still here with all of the photos of things that weigh 21oz. What is the conclusion? Firstly, don't be dumb and adjust your scales because, next time, it won't be your photographic project, it will be flour, or protein powder, or your infant. But then, secondly, maybe after we fill our souls with all the beautiful things that make it what it is when it leaves our body it actually weighs more than 21g. I prefer having a soul that weighs 21oz and is loaded like a hoarder's living room rather than having an empty 21g soul. Just an unpopular opinion.


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